[Shakespeare's Globe Center]

Shakespeare's Globe Centre (USA)

Centre for Globe Research

[USA, Southeast]


Rebuilding Shakespeare's Globe

Documentary Evidence:

The Rose was altered in 1592, and much of the process was recorded in the surviving diaries of its owner, Philip Henslowe. Taken together with the archaeological evidence, this has been highly influential in drawing conclusions about the nearby Globe's design and structure.

Peter Street, who built the Globe, was a Master Carpenter of the City of London. He also acted as architect, structural engineer, quantity surveyor and builder. He was responsible for dismantling the Theatre in Shoreditch where Shakespeare's first plays were performed. The framing timbers were floated across the river and used to build the Globe.

Peter Street also built the Fortune theatre a year after he finished the Globe, for which the building contract survives. This very often refers to the Globe, although it does not describe it in detail. Many conclusions about the Globe can be safely drawn from the implications contained in the document

A number of sketches and prints of the interiors of contemporary theatres survive. The Dutchmen Johannes de Witt visited London in 1596 three years before the Globe was built and was able to see four playhouses, of which two were on the south bank, and made a sketch of the inside of the Swan. He also wrote: 'There are four ampitheatres in London of notable beauty. . . In each of them a different play is daily exhibited to the populace. The two more magnificent of these are situated to the south beyond the Thames and are called the Rose and the Swan'. Inset: Johannes de Witt's drawing of the Swan in 1596. His obsession with classical theatre led him to caption his drawing in Latin using terms ascribe to Roman theatres, with which he saw parallels.

Thomas Platter, a visitor from Basle went to the Globe soon after it was built in 1599 and recorded: 'on September 21st, after lunch, at about two o'clock, I and my party crossed the water, and there in the house with the thatched roof we saw an excellent performance of the tragedy of the first Emperor Julius Caesar with a cast of some fifteen people'.

In the 1590s, most information about building came via the Netherlands. Building detail was much influenced by the Mannerist interpretations of Italian architecture compiled by Wendel Dieterlin, Vredeman de Vries and Sebastiano Serlio, which were published first in Latin and translated some time later into English. These were used as copy books, and illustrations were widely plundered by carvers and plasterers.

Serlio's books of architecture were available after 1553, though only published in English in 1611. It provided a clear guide to classical architecture, and its influence was immense.

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Questions? Email the Research Archive(globe@deans.umd.edu)
Updated on: 1 March 2002